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The Tragic Denouement of English Sociality

Miller, D; (2015) The Tragic Denouement of English Sociality. Cultural Anthropology , 30 (2) pp. 336-357. 10.14506/ca30.2.11. Green open access

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Social science contains a grand narrative about our fall from intense sociality to fragmented individualism. The present essay contests this narrative with respect to the sociality of the English. It starts with a study of hospice patients with terminal cancer who live in villages and yet become isolated and lonely. To explain this phenomenon, it uses a larger ethnography of village life, finding that villagers are highly sociable and philanthropic in the public domain, but circumspect and reticent with regard to the private domain. So once patients are restricted to their homes, isolation follows. The article further examines the comparative anthropology of Britain and historical studies of neighbors and family relations to suggest that this pattern of sociality has held true for centuries and represents nothing new. Finally, I consider these insights in the context of a wider study of social media, and its consequences for the work of the hospice.

Type: Article
Title: The Tragic Denouement of English Sociality
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.14506/ca30.2.11
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.14506/ca30.2.11
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: sociality; English; hospice; social media; dying
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10087761
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